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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Chapter 10


The Beginnings of the Native Church

The arrival of Mr. Alexander Sutherland on March 26, 1854, in the first of the monthly steamers, was a welcome addition to the staff. He relieved Mr. Anderson of the charge of the day-school, and thus left him more time to devote to other duties. As Calabar children can obey only one master, a divided authority in the school would have been inexpedient, and Mr. Anderson showed his wisdom and brotherly spirit in at once giving Mr. Sutherland . entire charge after initiating him into his duties.

Viewed in relation to home, the monthly arrival of the mail steamers has wonderfully altered the aspect of affairs in this country. In former days, two, three, and even four months have sometimes passed away without any European newspaper or letter reaching us, to let us know what was going on in the world. Then we sometimes felt as if we were in an out-of-the-world place. Now we have at least monthly means of communicating with distant friends; and it is no small comfort for us to feel that we are only a months distance from England. It is to us a great cause of thankfulness, and it should afford much relief to our personal friends, and to all the friends of the Mission, to know that, should any of us be necessitated to seek a change of air for sake of health, we have such frequent opportunities of taking a trip to sea, or, if need be, to England itself, and that, too, at a far less expense than the keeping up of a Mission ship and crew would necessarily involve.

During the week after Mr. Sutherland's arrival I went with him round the town, and introduced him to the native gentlemen, by all of whom he was kindly received. We also visited the Mission families at Creek Town and Old Town, as well as King Eyo, who also gave Mr. S. a cordial welcome to Old Calabar. On the following Sabbath, April 2nd, we, as usual on the first Sabbath of the month, observed the ordinance of the Lord's Supper in the schoolroom in the p.m. A large company of worshippers were present, both from the shipping and from the town. We remembered in our prayers at the table of the Lord the congregation at Whitburn, to which Mr. S. belonged in former days, as he informed us that that Sabbath was their Communion also.

On Monday, April 3rd, I resigned charge of the school into Mr. Sutherland's hands. He had seen my plan of operation for several days, and I felt it but due to him to show the young people as soon as possible that he was now to be " king for school." Having been constantly engaged in school labours in Jamaica and here together for upwards of fifteen years, I felt somewhat "out of my element" for a few days after giving up school, but I find that other equally important duties will demand all the time and labour I can devote to them.

No Communion service having been observed at Creek Town since Mr. Goldie left us, in accordance with the wishes of Church members there, I went up on the P.M. of Sabbath, April 9th, preached, baptized a child of one of the members, and dispensed The Lord's Supper. Mrs. Anderson, Mr. Sutherland, Dr. Eastwood four present medical attendant), and a goodly band of Duke Town young people, accompanied me. On that occasion six young men communicated for the first time, viz. five youths who had been baptized a few weeks previously, and George B. Waddell, an emancipado from a slave-ship, and subsequently a domestic in the family of Rev. Mr. Waddell. Having made application for admission to the Lord's table some months before—having been repeatedly examined as to his knowledge of divine things, and having given much satisfaction at each examination— and having (in the absence of a session) been approved by all the members of the Church at the station, I felt that it was but duty to him, to the Church, and to the Head of the Church, to admit him to the table of the Lord.

Including some from Duke Town and some from Old Town, twenty-two communicants united in showing forth the death of their Lord, in the presence of a large number of deeply interested spectators. It was to myself—I think I may say to all of us—a season of refreshing. We found "the communion of saints" to be both pleasant and profitable. Mr. Thomson delivered the concluding address in Calabar language. I was glad to learn from Mr. T. that other young men at Creek Town, among whom is King Eyo's second son, are very anxious to be received into the fellowship of the Church.

On the following Friday (April 14th) King Eyo and his gentlemen took to task the young men who had joined the Church. As Mr. Thomson has written you an interesting account of the important and deeply interesting procedure of that day, I shall not here enter into particulars. I shall only remark, what I stated to our young people here at the prayer meeting last Wednesday evening, that the demeanour of the young men at Creek Town on the occasion referred to is an illustration and evidence of the truth of the text, "The word of God is quick and powerful"; the ever-living and life-giving word ; the ever-strong and strength-giving word; producing similar effects in all who cordially embrace it in every age and in every land. We see its life and power in the case of Joshua and Caleb; in the case of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, etc.; in the case of martyrs in former years in Britain itself, and more recently in Madagascar, and in the case of these five young men in Old Calabar.

May 1.—About two months ago I intimated to you the marriage of the young man who calls himself David King. I am happy to be able now to announce something of far greater importance respecting him, namely, his baptism. I think I formerly stated to you (it was on his own authority) that he is a grandson of the late King Eyamba. He did not stand exactly in that relationship to Eyamba. His mother's mother was King Eyamba's queen, or head wife, but Eyamba was not his mother's father. Her father was the "big Duke Ephraim," who reigned before Eyamba's accession to regal power. David has long been wishful of being admitted into the Church, but two considerations induced me to delay his reception: first, I wished him to understand "the way of the Lord more perfectly" than he did when he first applied for baptism; and second, I felt somewhat at a loss how to act in regard to him from his position as a slave-holder. [For the history of Mr. Anderson's dealing with the case of slave-holders seeking admission to the Church, see Chapter XII.] In order to clear the way of future difficulties on this point, I drew up a declaration [The declaration is given in full in Chapter XII. p. 323.] on the treatment of servants, which, having read and explained to him, I asked him if he was willing to subscribe. This he cheerfully consented to, and attached his signature in presence of Mrs. Edgerley, Mr. Sutherland, and myself. The path of duty seeming clear, this young man was yesterday received into the fellowship of the Church by being baptized "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He is the first native man who has made a profession of religion at this station. And I need hardly add that he, as well as the other converts, has a claim on the sympathies and prayers of the parent Church. Young Eyo and the most of the native members were present at our P.M. service yesterday when D. K. was baptized. At my request, Young Eyo addressed the Duke Town young men, many of whom were present, on their duty in regard to the gospel of Christ. After I had finished the English portion of the service, he delivered a long and powerful address on the subject assigned to him. He spoke in Efik, and was listened to with deep attention. A considerable portion of his address was taken up in replies to some statements which it appears some white men are in the habit of making to the natives of Calabar against the Bible, and against their joining the Church. He handled their sophistries in a very masterly manner ; he brought them at once "to the law and to the testimony" as the grand test of truth, and exposed their utter worth-lessness. I have every reason to expect that his address will be productive of good.

Monday, May 8. — Other two members were added yesterday to the Church at this station. Their names are Louisa Goldie and Antika Angwan. Both have been in the mission-house since 1849. Tne former is a native of the country of Ekoi, said to be about a month's journey distant from Old Calabar. She appears to be about sixteen or seventeen years of age. The latter is a native of the neighbouring country of Ibo, and seems a year younger than the other. They have both, for some months, been anxious for admission to the Church, and, after undergoing many examinations in regard to their knowledge, and their walk and conversation being such as the other members of the Church approve, they were yesterday afternoon baptized and admitted to the table of the Lord. Six of the young men from Creek Town observed along with us the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. In regard to the two girls just named, I regret to say that they are still slaves. One belongs to Henry Cobham, the other to Antika Cob-ham. They thus "stand in jeopardy every hour." They may be demanded from us by their masters at any time, and we have no ground on which to resist the demand. They are not only liable every hour to be withdrawn from our instructions and our protection, but to be sold into hopeless slaver)' in some distant land. May the Good Shepherd be their Guide and Guardian ! They have joined the Church with open eyes—fully expecting to be called upon to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ and the gospel. O that they may be found faithful, and endure even to the end!

I do not know if it has ever been mentioned to you that the Calabarese have an apt illustration of the ordinance of baptism in a custom of their own which much resembles it. When a slave is purchased from any other country, the first thing done after the completion of the bargain is to observe the ceremony called Uduok Mong— i.e. the affusion of water. The newly-purchased is made to stand below the eaves of his new master's house, when his old proprietor, or his representative, takes a vessel containing water, which he empties by heaving the water on the roof in such a manner that a considerable portion of it will drop down on the person of the newly-arrived. This is generally accompanied with an exhortation to the person affused to conduct himself (or herself as the case may be) properly as an inhabitant of Old Calabar. By this ceremony all bonds connecting him with his former master and his former country are dissolved, and his connection with Old Calabar begun.

Some of the natives themselves imagine they can trace a resemblance between the Lord's Supper and their own Egbo festivals. For, say they, no one dare go to the palaver-house to an Egbo feast except those who have purchased the privilege of that particular grade of Egbo which is engaged in keeping a feast; so no one save those who truly belong to Christ and His people ought to sit at the Lord's table. For my own part, I should not like to illustrate the sacred ordinance of the Lord's Supper by any of their Egbo observances,—at least till I know a great deal more about them,—but I felt a good deal of interest in the above view of the matter, coming as it did spontaneously from some of the young men themselves.

Thursday, June 8.—Thomas Eyamba's mother is in great wrath about her son having been baptized. Her strongest objection to the measure is that her son will be allowed to marry only one wife. A big gentleman like her son to be without twenty or thirty wives !—the very thought of it is enough to break the poor woman's heart. She is also annoyed because he has come under obligations not to maltreat his slaves. She thinks, no doubt, that a little scorching now and then is necessary to keep the wretches in subjection, and that without cutting off of ears, extraction of sound teeth, etc., it will be impossible to manage them. Thomas keeps cool and calm amid the storms by which he is assailed from various points.

Our Sabbath meetings have improved lately both in regard to numbers and attention. We have generally four or five meetings in town during the A.M. of Sabbath. After these meetings I used to preach on board one of the ships, but the last two Sabbaths on which I did so I felt so faint that I was compelled to give up that interesting department of labour, at least for the present. The Sabbath school, held from 3 to 4 P.M., is attended by about eighty. Of those, ten or twelve are adults. Our little schoolroom has been greatly overcrowded at the 4 P.M. English service for several months past.

Our Wednesday evening prayer meeting is attended by from forty to fifty persons, many of whom seem to take much interest in the exercises. Besides singing and prayer, I read a passage of Scripture, explaining as I go along, sometimes in English, sometimes in Efik; I then catechise on the passage ; and after that I generally request one of the most intelligent young men present to read the passage, with its explanation in Efik, that all may understand. After prayer, we take a question in' the Shorter Catechism and discuss it in the same manner. Last evening the question under consideration was the very interesting and, in our circumstances, peculiarly important one, "What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?" The passage of Scripture which came more immediately under review last evening was also most suitable for the present time—Luke ix. 23-27.

Our friend Egbo Tom made us another dash a few months ago, said dash being a little sickly boy about two years of age. We have got his writ of manumission. He is thriving very well now. We have named him John Gray, after my venerable friend the Dalkeith patriarch of that name. Mrs. A. redeemed a fine little girl some time ago. We call her Isabella Elliot. We mean to have both baptized on some early day.


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